Calera redistricting awaits Justice Department approval

CALERA &8212; The Calera City Council voted Monday to adopt new district lines, pending U.S. Justice Department approval.

The council commissioned the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham to redraw the lines to reflect the city&8217;s rapid growth.

&8220;This is the way to go,&8221; said Mayor George Roy. &8220;It looks like a pretty good plan. It shows here we have grown tremendously in size and area.&8221;

The city&8217;s current map was drawn under the 2000 census, which said Calera had 3,128 residents.

City leaders estimate the population to be about 10,000 residents now.

The district lines will take effect in the August 2008 municipal elections.

They must first be approved by the U.S. Justice Department, which under the 1965 Voting Act requires cities to submit any changes to how elections are conducted.

The new map would eliminate the city&8217;s only black-majority district, a seat currently held by Ernest Montgomery.

&8220;There&8217;s no black district like there used to be,&8221; said Roy. &8220;In my opinion, it won&8217;t affect Ernest at all [should he seek re-election].&8221;

All five districts will now hover between 2,000-2,200 residents. District 2 will still have the largest non-white population, about 33 percent.

U.S. Justice Department approval should take between 60 to 90 days.

The new district guidelines must be in effect by the first of the year to be used in the next election.